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How IT helped Monetize Intellectual Property ­ taking it from the Page to the Browser

way2smile Solutions create a flexible online tool that leverages three years of research for a leading business book to measure leaders against a global population, giving insight into management style and engagement capacity

Enterprise Reporting Tools ­ either custom systems or packaged units ­ are always a major headache for business leaders. All too often they are built with the mindset of a programmer rather than the vision of a business leader, or indeed end user. So many times the result is an inflexible, quickly obsolete tool that the business is wedded to, in an unhappy marriage that is too expensive to get out of. The irony is that, originally, the tool was implemented to solve a problem or create a new offering ­ rather than be one more problem for the business to face.

Over the past two years, way2smile Solutions have studied the design, development and implementation of enterprise software solutions and used this insight to assist clients in creating solutions that overcome all of the above issues.

The company has identified a unique approach that enables clients to build an efficient system that lets them add new components easily and reduce IT expense. way2smile labels it Focused plan, because rather than accumulating all requirements initially, companies focus on providing a trail for their system to be developed over time and as requirements emerge. This follows the ‘grass tracks’ principle of development ­ whereby architects will not initially lay paths around a new building, but wait until ‘tracks’ emerge in the grass where people have found the most convenient routes ­ then lay the paths down these.

Few companies are able to clearly define requirements initially and modification of requirements both during and after initial development is common. Normally this creates a major pain for leadership and IT teams as cost and wasted time start to stack up. Instead of this, way2smile’s Focused plan approach lets companies share their vision and allow the development team to to lay the foundation, which adapts and withstands all their future needs in a highly cost effective way.

way2smile strongly believes this approach was a key success factor when creating a complex, bespoke solution for a key client, the Culture Builders (http://tcb-profiling.com/). way2smile Solutions has been involved in developing and deploying a new profiling tool system that measures people on their management strength and ability to engage with their teams.

The Culture Builders had very ambitious targets and, like all companies, a limited budget. This was no problem for way2smile, who built the first phase in just eight weeks at more than 65% cost reduction of any other solution providers. The system is very flexible to support, easily allowing new enhancements, including customized reporting, 360 elements with peer and manager feedback and the ability to create a group report.

Chris Preston, Director at the Culture builders (http://www.theculturebuilders.com/) and Jane Sparrow, author of the book “The Culture Builders; Leadership Strategies for Employee Performance” were determined that their three years of research for the book should be converted into an online tool quickly to seize the opportunity and interest created by the book’s launch ­ the tool was a key way of re­using and monetising their intellectual property.

To address this, Chris Preston brought in Madhu Kesavan, founder and leader of way2smile Solutions. Understanding the challenge of converting a set of highly complex beta excel sheet algorithms into an online performance management tool, Madhu drew together a talented core team to ensure a solution could be quickly designed and implemented. Having agreed how the system could develop in future, Chris and Madhu agreed to put in place a tool that could scale enormously and adapt new business logic at short notice.

Success of an IT project always resides in coupling business and IT strategy together. To make this a reality, it’s essential that the business leaders, and users, are involved in designing an IT solution and invest the time required with the development team to mutually understand the complexity and what’s feasible to build .In most scenarios, IT leaders struggle to truly understand the business context and what the client’s expectation is. However, these issues were well addressed by The Culture Builders and way2smile Solutions, leveraging the Flowing Improvement approach that the company is renowned for.

At the initial stage of the project Madhu received an algorithm excel sheet from Chris and an overall project spec. In follow­up meetings, Chris was able to fully list out all the requirements and explained in detail about the complexity of the measurement process. Madhu then worked with his core team to correctly understand the business logic and lead the development execution. Madhu firmly believes that, as a CEO, it’s his job to: “understand what my client is looking for and be able to explain what IT can do for them ­ then ensure my employees are thinking in the same direction. In this way, we will easily meet our customers’ needs and add value to their business”

way2smile Solutions did not focus on delivering a complete solution; rather they concentrated on building a pilot project that created the core of the customized, complex, report based on the client’s algorithm. This was rapidly achieved by way2smile’s talented developer team along with a high quality QA process. Throughout this period there was a constant interaction between Chris and way2smile Solutions about the business vision, the emerging needs and his view on the development.

As per the client requirements, the customized pdf featured spider diagrams and bar graphs with dynamic data­ with a very specific design and layout that was critical to Chris’s vision of success. way2smile created the pdf dynamically based on the survey answers ­ once the core puzzle of the very complex scoring was solved, the rest of the system quickly fell into place. Chris relied on way2smile to choose the right technology to make sure that it would be reliable and simple to use and quick to fix should a failure or bug emerge. And, given the expansion plans, it had to be easily reusable and expandable.

way2smile focused on standardizing components, which allowed the business to quickly incorporate new functionality by reusing existing components. Madhu also worked with his team to create an architecture that would allow rapid fixes for any issues identified ­ a modular approach to the tool allows the team to ‘break it down into pieces’ and find both the problem and the fix very quickly.

After the first version launch, Chris asked for other critical features, including Group report, 360 reports with peers and managers, and Summary reporting. The highly modular architecture allowed developers to add new features without disturbing the existing system ­ which was already in use by The Culture Builders. Standardized components that were built for the system initially acted off­the­shelf solutions for the second stages and the developers easily adapted them with new business logic. This approach really speeds up the pace of development.

Madhu Kesavan summarises it as

“we scaled up the application behaviour and let the tcb­profiling system to grow from one offering to a multiple offering tool in a short span of time.”

Looking at the final product, Chris Preston states

“I am SO proud to share this tool with clients, and to use it with our teams. Madhu and his company took my ideas, my data and a vision I had for a future tool, and made it possible. They've also built something that I trust to be reliable and accurate and will stand the test of time. It’s now a core part of our business, and something we anticipate will grow and grow, with the help of way2smile.”

way2smile is a leading software development company located in Canada and India. It specializes in helping Organizations, Business Owners, and Entrepreneurs to integrate their business with internet technologies to differentiate from competitors, increase sales performance, and become more efficient and effective. It’s three values are efficiency, flexibility and speed, which, when applied to development programmes, create affordable, future proof solutions that meet tight client requirements.